BELMOPAN, Mon. Nov. 29, 2021 — According to a Cabinet brief released on Tuesday, November 23, at the most recent meeting of Cabinet, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise received instructions from Cabinet to begin a study focused on the rising cost of living in Belize. This is in response to a steady rise in prices for food items and other necessities that has been seen in various local supermarkets and shops across the country. The Ministry of Agriculture has also been tasked with introducing legislation at the next sitting of the House of Representatives to set legal mechanisms in place for the relevant authorities to address price gouging by shop owners and merchants.
The Cabinet brief also shared that PM Hon. John Briceño, along with the Ministerial Consultative Team, has held the first meeting with the Social Partnership Committee to review the GoB’s economic performance over the past six months in fulfillment of a pledge made in a letter to the joint unions back in May of this year. Reportedly the GoB team presented a report “on the state of government’s finances, held discussions on efforts to achieve government’s Plan Belize agenda on good governance as well as agreed on terms of reference for future meetings, including biennial meetings of the Social Partnership Committee.”
Regarding sustainable development, the Cabinet also approved recommendations made by the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Management for the reintroduction of legislation in the National Assembly through which the country could become a State Party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The aim of the Ministry is to allow Belize to honor its commitment to address the illegal capture and sale of endangered flora and fauna, to promote the management, conservation, and protection of endangered species and to establish legal structures enabling the effective regulation of international trade of CITES listed species in compliance with international obligations.
Cabinet also gave approval to the Ministry of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour and Local Government to engage in a “comprehensive review” of Belize’s Labour Act, including a review of Covid-19-related regulations. The ministry was also instructed to formulate a plan for the gradual implementation of a five-dollar minimum hourly wage promised in their PlanBelize agenda.
Finally, the Cabinet made a major announcement that as of Thursday, 25th November 2021, all motor omnibuses can operate at 100% seat capacity. All seats can thus be occupied by passengers. Those bus operators must still comply with all Covid-19 safety protocol, however, including sanitization of seats and wearing of masks. It will also be the responsibility of bus operators to deny transport to any passengers without a face mask and to remove those in violation.
Cabinet has stated that failure to comply with the necessary protocols will result in fines being levied upon operators.